FIVE QUESTIONS WITH FB CHRISTIAN PAYNE
ATHENS – Christian Payne doesn’t hold back when asked what it means to him to be playing for the Georgia Bulldogs.
Born and raised in Athens, he grew up as a Bulldogs’ fan, walked on at Georgia as a linebacker and ended up starting at fullback as a freshman.
“Oh, yeah, I came with my dad to most every single game,” said Payne, who prepped at Prince Avenue Christian School in Oconee County. “I was that kid that had his room decorated like Georgia. I’ve got pictures with Uga when I was like 5 years. We came to Picture Day and everything. So I’m living the dream.”
What does it take to make that happen, kids? Payne says it’s really not that complicated. In a nutshell, he says basically to show up ready to work and be willing to do anything.
“It was a dream to come to Georgia and play for the football team,” Payne said. “I just came in with the mindset to work hard, give it my all, and then maybe I’d get my shot one time. Just getting my shot now is pretty awesome.”
Now a 6-foot-1, 232-pound sophomore, Payne just returned to the field this past Saturday after missing most of camp with a broken leg. He came back from the injury in just four weeks.
Here’s five questions with Christian Payne …
Q: What happened to break your leg and how’d you get back from it so fast?
A: “It was on a power play during the first scrimmage we had during camp. … Somebody just kind of leg-whipped me. I didn’t think I was hurt that bad at first and just tried to walk it off. As we went on it felt worse and worse. It was diagnosed as a small crack in the fibula.
“They pretty much said all they could possibly do was just let it heal on its own. It was small. You couldn’t see it on the X-ray unless you zoomed in. It was a little bit more than a hairline fracture. All they said was four to six weeks on the timeline. So I was just happy to get back (against Vanderbilt). … We put a wrap on it and everything. It felt great to me. It was like, zero pain, minimal soreness. All the trainers did a great job of healing me up.”
Q: Coaches and teammates have said you have the perfect mentality for playing fullback. What is that, exactly?
A: “Funny thing, coming in my freshman year of fall camp, I actually played linebacker. That’s what I played in high school. I played a little tight end but I didn’t play fullback at all. After the first week of fall camp, I was actually on the field with scout kickoff return and (Mike) Bobo yelled out, ‘Payne, you’re coming to play fullback for me on Monday.’ That’s how it started. But it’s a great fit, you know, because I like to hit people. I like contact. It’s been great. However I was able to get on the field, I wanted to do it. So it’s been a great experience so far.”
Q: You and senior Quayvon Hicks both play the position. How’s that breaking down?
A: “We pretty much traded every other series (against Vanderbilt). It’s good. Quayvon is a great player and it’s good to have two fullbacks. We can lay it all on the field and you know if you got tired you’ve got another fullback who can come in and get you. So it’s a good thing.”
Q: What have been your impressions of Brian Schottenheimer’s offense?
A: “It’s been great. It’s a balanced pro-style attack. We like to run the ball, and then we’ll open it up into three or four wide receiver sets and pass the ball. It’s pretty much the same as Bobo. Just a little bit different terminology and play-calling.”
Q: Being a long-time Georgia fan, one would assume you have a strong opinion when it comes to South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier?
A: “Oh, yeah, I know the Ol’ Ball Coach. I remember the Ol’ Fun & Gun offense. I know Spurrier really well. I just know he’s a great coach and he’s going to have his guys ready to play. We have to be ready to play this game. Everybody’s like, ‘oh, they lost to Kentucky.’ Anybody who plays Georgia is going to bring their ‘A’ game, just like Vanderbilt last week. They came out hard against us. So we’ve got to be ready.”